The New Times (Kigali)

8 March 2014

Rwanda: Microsoft, MINEDUC Sign Information Tech Deal

Microsoft and the Ministry of Education have signed an agreement to transform learning and develop employment skills among students and educators in Rwanda.

Speaking during the signing ceremony on Thursday, Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Education, said there is need to improve access to and use of information and communications technology (ICT) in primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational and technical education.

Through the agreement, the two parties will seek to jointly improve the use of ICT for the support of teaching and learning.

Microsoft has been offering educator and school programmes for 10 years under the company's signature education initiative, Partners in Learning, which helps teachers and schools around the world improve students' experiences and skills through technology.

With a firm conviction that every child deserves quality education, and with over $750 million dollars committed to date, Partners in Learning has already reached 12 million educators in 134 countries worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa over 13 million students have so far benefitted from the programme.

"At Microsoft, we strongly believe in the role of ICT in enabling the youth to acquire the skills they need to prosper in the hyper-connected era," said Microsoft country manager for Eastern and Southern Africa, Eric Odipo.

There are still challenges in the disseminination and use of ICT in education in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to a report by the Ministry of Youth and ICT, only six per cent of primary schools and 18 per cent of secondary schools are currently connected to the internet while the computer to students' ratio in secondary schools is currently 40 to one.

Odipo said the ministry, in partnership with Microsoft, will spearhead ICT in education through various projects.

The projects include helping the government to provide ICT access to students through programmes and services like Office 365, offering recognition to educators through programmes like Innovative Educators, providing encouragement and inspiration to students through programmes such as Imagine Cup, DreamSpark, Kodu, and DigiGirlz.

Odipo added that the partnership will ensure delivery of services and experiences that enhance learning.

"The agreement reiterates Microsoft's belief in empowering the youth in Africa and that this investment can have real impact on the continent and global stage," remarked Akaliza Gara who was recently appointed one of the Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council Youth members.

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